Ever since it opened a few weeks ago, people have not stopped talking about Coalfire. In the past twenty days or so, the restaurant’s thread on LTHForum has garnered 140 comments, virtually all of them positive (by LTH standards), and many glowing. Tablehopping declared it “as good as…Spacca Napoli,” a heady plaudit from a major publication for a new restaurant. All this press has been a mixed blessing for Coalfire, which has struggled with dough shortages and floods. When the pizza is as good as people are saying, however, these growing pains can be easily forgiven.
Meanwhile, what kind of pizza is it? PIGMON of LTHFourm describes it as “a beautiful hybrid between traditional Neapolitan, NY Neapolitan, and Chicago bar pizza,” meaning a crispy, lippy, thin crust (baked in an oven fired to 700 degrees by a combination of coal and wood for around two and a half minutes), high quality tomato sauce, and a relatively light touch with the meat-heavy toppings list (so much so that anchovies don’t even count as a meat). The menu is concise, with nine pizza combinations, three calzones, and two token salads. The combinations, which range in price from $12.99 to $15.99 for a 14” pie, are simple and classic, and include white pizza ($13.50), fiorentino (salami and red peppers, $13.99), and the aptly named “meat” (salami, sausage and pepperoni, $15.99). By our calculations, these prices are pretty reasonable - similar pizzas in New York, to which Coalfire’s offerings have been favorably compared, would cost half again as much. We recommend going early (before 7pm), before they get too crowded or run out of ingredients. It will be interesting to see the inevitable comparisons with the other new high-profile pizza restaurant, Crust, which opened late last week a mere mile and a half to the northwest of Coalfire. The good news is that Chicago has an insatiable appetite for good pizza, and the pie can only get bigger.
p.s. For the record, it’s “Coalfire,” not “Coal Fire”